Just like humans, dogs sometimes develop tumours. Tumours that develop on a dog's pancreas are called exocrine tumours. Veterinarians aren't sure what causes the tumours to develop in the glandular tissue of the pancreas, but when they do occur, exocrine tumours are almost always malignant. It is very rare for a dog to develop a benign pancreas tumour. Dogs diagnosed with pancreatic tumours often only live a few months from the time they're diagnosed.
Along with abnormalities in the dog's blood tests, earlier signs that a dog may be suffering from a tumour of the pancreas include a failure to eat or loss of appetite, weight loss, listlessness or lethargy.
Diagnoising Pancreatic Tumors in Dogs
If you notice swelling or sensitivity in your dog's stomach that lasts longer than a few days, visit your vet. Your vet will examine your dog and check for a mass or lump in your dog's stomach. To confirm that there is a mass on your dog's pancreas, your vet will order X-rays. Sometimes an ultrasound, the same technology used during pregnancy, is used to pinpoint the type of pancreatic tumour. If your dog has a pancreatic tumour, laboratory tests will often show dehydration, an obstructed bowel and signs of jaundice.
Treating Tumors of the Pancreas in Dogs
Tumours are sometimes treated with surgery, but generally by the time dogs are diagnosed with pancreatic tumours, it is often too late. By this time, the cancer has usually spread beyond the pancreas to nearby organs and lymph nodes. Rarely, when discovered early before it spreads, a tumour can be surgically removed from a dog's pancreas and the dog may go on to recover fully. Chemotherapy treatment is another option, but again, it is often a futile effort since the majority of exocrine tumours of the pancreas in dogs result in death, regardless of chemotherapy treatment.
Caring for a Dog with Tumors of the Pancreas After Sugery
If your dog undergoes surgery for a pancreatic tumour, he will require a few days' stay at the animal hospital. There, your pet can receive food through a feeding tube while his intestine recovers after surgery. Your dog will require medications prescribed by your vet after the surgery, and he may still need the feeding tube when he returns home.
Preventing Tumors of the Pancreas in Dogs
Since scientists do not know what causes tumours of the pancreas in dogs, prevention isn't possible. Early detection is the next best option to prevention when it comes to pancreatic tumours in dogs. This means that you should take your older or middle-aged dog to the vet if she experiences abdominal pain, weight loss, yellowing of the eyes or vomiting. If your dog is unlucky enough to have a pancreatic tumour, you may be able to have it removed if you detect the disease early enough, before it spreads to other organs or overwhelms the pancreas to the point at which surgery is no longer possible.